New world record set at Bonhams as rare life-like doll sells for £1/4million

Expressive dolls modeled on doll maker's daughters and nephew are buyers' favorite at £1million sale

A rare and unique character doll broke the world record for any doll ever sold as it sold at the Bonhams, Knightsbridge auction yesterday (24th September) for £242,500. The doll was secured by a bidder in the room who got a round of applause from fellow buyers.

The extraordinarily life-like little girl doll was made by German doll-manufactures Kammer & Reinhardt. She wears a white dress with lace sleeves and a powder blue ribbon sash which matches her finely painted blue-grey eyes. A delicate straw hat sits on top of her auburn, plaited hair. This doll has unique pierced ears and a more adult expression than the other dolls, capturing a striking portrait of a young lady. No other example of this doll is known. It is therefore possible that she was an experimental mold.

Kammer & Reinhardt dolls dominated the auction. The top three lots sold for double and triple their estimated prices:

A beautiful bisque head doll by Kammer & Reinhardt, with a white cotton dress and light brown shoulder length hair, sold for £170,500 against £40,000-60,000 estimates. The artist Professor Lewin-Funcke designed dolls for Kammer & Reinhardt and this doll was modeled on one of Professor Lewin-Funcke's four daughters.

A 'Heinz' character doll of a young boy in a blue shirt and a brown hat, also by Kammer & Reinhardt, sold for £115,300. Heinz is modeled after Professor Lewin-Funcke's nephew Heinz Burkowitz and is probably the most expressive in the 100 series of character dolls.

Leigh Gotch, Head of the Toy Department at Bonhams, commented: "The collection offered a unique array of dolls, portraying real children from the 1909-1912 period. A collection such as this has never been seen in one room before. The rarity and high quality artwork of these dolls is reflected in the world record breaking prices achieved at Bonhams today."

Kammer & Reinhardt German doll-makers

The Thurungia region of Germany is famous for the high quality of its natural clay deposits and it was this clay that allowed the Kammer & Reinhardt company to produce delicate bisque dolls.

In the early 20th century the doll industry was awash with German mass produced pretty faced dolls. At this time, intellectual circles began to take an interest in child psychology and this had a profound effect on the design of dolls. Manufacturers decided it was time to produce and market dolls that had expression and realism, taking their inspiration form true life models.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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